- Born 30 January 1853, Dublin
- Died 31 December 1896, St Stephen's Green, Dublin
- Educated Rugby School, Dublin University
- Debut 23 August 1874 v I Zingari at Vice Regal Ground
- Cap Number 156
- Style Right-hand bat; slow right arm ; also wicket keeper.
- Teams Dublin University, Phoenix, Na Shuler, Cork County, MCC, Lord Harris Team, England
Leland Hone was a capable all round cricketer. A free scoring batsman whose fluency of style won many admirers, and useful slow bowler, he was also a capable reserve wicket keeper, who was a member of one of Ireland's most distinguished cricket families. His two elder brothers and three cousins all played for Ireland, as did his nephew WP Hone, the first major historian of Irish Cricket. Another brother played in non cap matches in North America, while another cousin won a Cambridge blue before dying a tragic and early death.
Sent to school at Rugby, though his brothers were at St Columba's, he was, in later years remembered by his Headmaster, Frederick Temple later Archbishop of Canterbury, as an "idle boy, good at games." From his Warwickshire public school, he entered Dublin University in 1874, with a family reputation to uphold as his brother William had been captain of the XI in 1865 and 1866. Leland was in the team for three seasons from 1874, heading the bowling averages in his first season, though his debut for XVIII of the University v the All England XI, as a batsman, had been unsuccessful with scores of 0 and 7. Two years later, he headed the batting averages.
Leaving University, he was for some time in England, which led to an unsuccessful excursion into first class cricket in 1878, and his somewhat last minute selection for Lord Harris tour of Australia the following winter, which is described below. However he never lost touch with Irish Cricket, and besides making 11 appearances for the national side, was seen in the ranks of Phoenix and Na Shuler with some regularity. The old Phoenix professional Shelton, a Nottinghamshire man though he never played first class cricket, related how in a match between Phoenix and Birkenhead Park, he came into bat with the score on 190-9 with Leland not out in the 30s. They took the score to 303 before Leland was out for 136!
He was often in the Shulers colours on their annual visits to County Cork, usually making good scores, besides picking up useful wickets, only occasionally keeping wicket. The latter task often being performed by his cousin Jeffrey. In 1877, however, Leland both bowled and kept wicket in the same innings. Bowling he dismissed three Cork County batsmen, before donning the gloves to make a smart stumping off the bowling of mystery man WS Hunt, who played for neither his school, Cheltenham College, nor Dublin University First XIs, but had match figures of 8-39 in his only outing for Ireland.
Leland's best bowling performance was also against The County, when he had 8 in the match in 1888. His outstanding game with the bat, having previously struggled to get past the 40s, was in 1885, against the Garrison of The South of Ireland. As with several other Irish players whose biographies are to be found on this site, he had discovered military bowling to his liking. He made 100* as the Shulers reached 344, sharing a big 4th wicket stand with John Dunn, who should surely have been playing for the opposition, but posted 120, yet another of the hundreds he reeled off, apparently at will in Irish cricket in the mid 1880s. Leland was also sometimes to be seen in the colours of Cork County, being best remembered for a brilliant 137, struck against more tiring soldiers, the 37th Regiment.
His eleven match Irish career was interspersed with his eight match first class ones; this began with two matches for MCC v The Universities at Lord's in 1878. Here he did not keep wicket and managed only one respectable score, 27, which was to prove his highest score in first class cricket, in the second innings of his debut match against Cambridge. Batting at 5, he was out hit wicket to AG Steel without scoring in his first knock. The second innings included the only first class 50 partnership he took part in, 56 for the 5th wicket with amateur all rounder AH Stratford, who won three FA Cup Winners Medals before becoming a leading cricketer in New York. Besides Leland, whose family had several literary connections, the MCC side included two other players of interest to the history of English literature. Batsman Reginald Hargreaves scored freely for Hampshire in their pre first class days, to the delight of his wife Alice, about whom Lewis Carroll, himself an aspiring, but poor bowler, had once written children's stories! Thomas Mycroft, the wicket keeper, and his brother William, not playing in this match, both played cricket with Arthur Conan Doyle, who admitted to borrowing their name for Sherlock Holmes' corpulent brother. Against Oxford Leland batted at 3 in his only innings of a rain affected match. He was stumped for 0 off the bowling of Alfred Evans whose son AJ Evans, was to be a bizarre selection for England in 1921, even by the standards of that humiliating summer. AJ had spent the War as a serial escaper from German POW camps; his book 'The Escaping Club', becoming the prototype for better known accounts which followed the Second World War.
In the winter of 1878/79, Leland found himself a member of Lord Harris' touring party in Australia. Harris had taken over when ID Walker was unable to go, and was unable to raise the proposed amateur side, thus adding the two Yorkshire professionals Tom Emmett and George Ulyett to the party. They did most of the plebeian work of bowling. The trip was financed by the Melbourne CC who paid handsome expenses to the amateurs. The side was nowhere near representative, even of the best amateurs, as is shown by the fact that Leland, at best an occasional gloveman was brought into the side to fill that role. The Australian fixtures contained 5 first class matches and 7 odds ones. Leland kept wicket as well as could have been expected, but failed with the bat, managing only 58 runs in the first class matches at 8.22, with only round arm paceman SS Schulz below him.
His highest score was 22, against Victoria at the MCG, when he put on 32 for the last wicket with FA MacKinnon. The latter was a Highland Chieftain, The 35th MacKinnon, who lived to within days of his 99th birthday; at the time of writing he remains the longest lived of all Test Cricketers, by more than three years. Leland may have been pleased with his score, in this match, but the part time keeper also allowed 27 byes in the hosts' first innings, crucial in a match lost by 2 wickets. The game v Combined Australia, now regarded as a Test Match, was the initial first class match of the tour. Leland became the third Irish born Test cricketer, the other two were playing for Australia, and the first of four, at the time of writing, to play for England, not including Ed Joyce's one day appearances. He kept wicket adequately catching Co Cork born Tom Horan off Emmett as well as holding one other catch, but made little impact with the bat. However his first innings of 7, batting at 10, was, astonishingly, the third highest score with only Harris (33) and Absolom (52) surpassing it. Australia won by 10 wickets.
He was on the field in the second NSW match at Sydney, when the hosts' star batsman Billy Murdoch was adjudged run out provoking a riot, in which Lord Harris was assaulted and the players grabbed stumps to protect themselves. Leland's views have not survived, but the incident nearly strangled Anglo-Australian cricket at birth, making it very hard for the 1880 tourists to obtain ant fixtures, until Harris was persuaded to relent and led England in the first Test on English soil at The Oval in September. That summer also saw Leland's final first class match. Playing for MCC v Oxford at Lord's, he was again dismissed by Evans, this time in both innings, as his career, alas, finished with a pair. It can have been small consolation that MCC won by 9 wickets.
His Irish career comprised 11 matches, two of which, including his debut in 1874, against I Zingari in which he made 6 and 1, were 12 a side and do not appear in his statistics on this site. Two of his three best matches for Ireland were also with IZ. In 1875, at the Vice Regal Ground, he kept wicket as DN Neill and Rev J Byrne, the Vice Regal Chaplain, bowled IZ out to give Ireland a 201 run victory. However he played his part as a batsman. Going in at 9 in the second innings, he helped Frank Kempster add 93 for the 9th wicker, easily the best stand of the match. Frank made 65, while Leland, hitting one 6 and one 4 contributed 47, helping to put the match out of the Zingaros reach. In 1877, he hit his highest score for Ireland 74* at Phoenix CC. Coming in when 2 wickets had fallen cheaply, he helped his cousin William (always known as W Hone, jnr to distinguish him from Leland's eldest brother) add 77 for the 3rd wicket.
Theirs were the only double figure scores of the innings, William making 26. The wicket was slow and heavy after rain had washed out the scheduled first day, another being added, but Leland's innings was sparkling and chanceless, including five 4s and five 3s. His last innings of note for Ireland was in the drawn match against The Aldershot Division in 1883. Ireland ran out of time trying to force an innings win. Leland, who was, as we have noted partial to military bowling, made a hard hitting 72, including two 6s, one 5, and four 4s. The Kent all rounder, Frank Hearne played for Ireland as a substitute in this match. As he was later to appear in Tests for both England and South Africa, this match is unique in being the only one in which Ireland fielded two Test Cricketers.
Leland Hone suffered from heart trouble in his later years, and was still a comparatively young man, when an attack carried him off at his St Stephen's Green home on the afternoon of New Year's Eve 1896. He had been seen around Dublin in the morning. Posterity seemed determined to conceal his deeds. Wisden ignored his death until 1995, when, only 98 years later than might have been expected an obituary appeared. Scores and Biographies surpassed this achievement. It was not until Volume XVI was published early in the 21st century, thanks to the industry of Roger Heavans, that Leland was recorded in that magnum opus. Even Leland's nephew, Pat, got his year of death wrong in Cricket in Ireland. He is, however, profiled in Siggins and Fitzgerald 'Ireland's 100 Cricket Greats.'
Edward Liddle, November 2007